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 Published by the American Geological Institute
December 2000
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

News Notes

Developing the South Pole

No need to worry about traffic jams, but caution signs are cropping up at the South Pole as construction begins to overhaul aging research facilities. After 10 years of planning, workers this austral summer are building the first portion of an elevated station to stand over the dome of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced Oct. 17.

The new station, scheduled for a 2005 completion, will house 200 people, says Peter West of NSF. For the past 30 years, the older dome, originally built to accommodate 33 men, has been the core support structure for men and women scientists working in the South Pole.

  Construction begins this year on the replacement for the Amundsen-
  Scott South Pole Station. Pictured is a model of the new station. NSF

“Eventually the dome will be taken down,” West says. As snowdrifts encroach, the elevated station will have the capability to rise even higher.

The $152.9 million budget also includes plans for a new power plant that will provide up to one megawatt of electricity at the station to power more computers, telescopes and other scientific equipment. A nine-meter satellite dish will connect the pole with the commercial MARISAT-F2 and NSF’s GOES-3 satellites to help transfer datacollected year-round. Large aluminum shields installed this season will increase the sensitivity of the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI), an array of 13 microwave antennas that measure background radiation.

Bridget K. Mulvey
Geotimes contributing writer

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